Monday, May 9, 2022

Do Americans Actually Want Real News on Cable TV?

Chris Licht, who's the new head of CNN, wants to shift the original cable news network back to its roots of doing real news instead of commentary, with him telling staff that's the best way to get back trust in the news media. 

In a memo on his first day, he said the way to recover trust is, quote, "educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints."

But is that what viewers actually want? 

Joe Ferullo, former executive VP of programming for CBS Television Distribution, wrote an opinion piece for The Hill questioning if it is. 

Jose Ferullo
He wrote: "Real news is for the curious. At its best, television news is delivered by people and for people who don’t believe they already know everything. But cable news today is dominated by opinionated anchors, reporters and viewers who are the opposite of curious." 

He says a focus on real news can be successfully done, but it's "much harder," saying TV thrives on personalities, and there are models that combine that with, quote, "credibility, seriousness, and an open-mind." 

He cites trusted and well-known news figures from the past like David Brinkley, Mike Wallace and Diane Sawyer, describing them as "trusted and curious journalists who attracted loyal audiences with facts, figures and true stories -- absent hyperbole and conspiracies." 

He says this kind of approach needs some time to work, but says it comes down to: "Are enough viewers honestly interested in breaking away from the intoxicating rush of anger and righteousness on offer in too much cable news? Can a substantial audience be built on serving people information without all the pre-baked answers?"

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